Call back service helps diabetics

A PIONEERING new service run by the region's ambulance trust is today helping diabetics to stay out of hospital.

A PIONEERING new service run by the region's ambulance trust is today helping diabetics to stay out of hospital.

Research by the East Anglian Ambulance Trust found that the number of patients dialling 999 after suffering an acute diabetic attack has increased by 50 per cent in the past six years to nearly 3,000 each year.

Two-thirds of these cases were successfully treated at home by paramedics but many were unaware of how best to manage their condition and of the dangers of a repeat attack within 24 hours.

The trust has now developed a telephone call-back service to check on the progress of patients after they have been seen to try and overcome the problem.

Steve Mortley, who led the research, said 65pc of those who called 999 for a diabetic attack were repeat callers, with 48pc calling more than once within the past year.

He said: “Just over half of the callers were responsible for 78pc of the calls, which shows there is a clear need to follow up diabetic incidents to try to make sure they do not have another episode.”

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Since the new service was introduced in mid-April, East Anglian Ambulance Trust's control staff have contacted more than 25 patients who have all given permission to receive a call.

Mandy Wegg, a paramedic who works in the control room, said: “All of the patients we've contacted so far have been delighted with the service as there is someone looking out for them.”

A hypoglycaemic attack happens when a diabetic's blood sugar level drops too low. Their behaviour can become unpredictable and, if left untreated, they can slip into a coma when the condition can become life-threatening. This is a particular problem out-of-hours when doctors can not be so easily contacted.

Mrs Wegg said: “Out of hours the patient is left to their own devices, and that's when problems can occur, especially if they live alone.

“Many diabetics are too embarrassed to tell their doctor they've called an ambulance out, and there is often a real risk of a repeat attack within 24 hours.

“So we will ring them back at an appointed time to make sure they are OK, and if there's no reply we will send an ambulance to the address. Thankfully we haven't had to yet, but this could save a life.”

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